When it comes to fried foods does it get any better than crunchy deep fried shrimp?
Let me answer that for you.
No doubt that is my favorite and has been since I was a child.
One of the first foods I first learned to cook was fried shrimp. I was cooking it before Eat Like No One Else was even a vision in my mind.
The vessel I fry it now may have changed from an electric deep fryer to a cast iron dutch oven with a thermometer attached, but not much else has.
One thing I have always used is precooked shrimp. And it’s still what I use.
Why Would You Want to Fry Precooked Shrimp?
I have been frying precooked shrimp for years and have always loved it more than any other fried shrimp I have had. Homemade is the best.
Precooked shrimp do have some advantages. They are easier to work with. You don’t have to peel or devein anything. I am not the most skilled person with my hands, so this doesn’t appeal to me at all.
Catch my pun?
Is the texture of uncooked shrimp going to be better than the precooked? Possibly. But man my fried shrimp has been so good it hasn’t been worth investigating. It’s a lot of work to peel, devein, then batter and fry the shrimp. I am not scared of any hard work in the kitchen but that is really time consuming for a guy with the mouths of 4 kids to feed.
It’s Easier to Know When Precooked Shrimp are Done
What I also like about precooked shrimp is that I know when it’s done easily. All you need to do is turn the batter golden brown and delicious.
You don’t have to be worried that the shrimp is not fully coked inside. There is no chance you’re going to burn the outside before the inside is cooked. That takes the stress out of frying.
Use Panko to Bread Your Precooked Shrimp
Time to talk about breading. And for me, this is the only way
Instead of reaching for regular plain old boring bread crumbs for the fried shrimp I turn to the power of Panko bread crumbs or Japanese style bread crumbs. The Panko gives the shrimp a level of crispiness that traditional bread crumbs only wish it could.
Just look that the texture of Panko bread crumbs:
What Size Precooked Shrimp Should I Buy for Frying?
I tend to buy the shrimp that is on sale, so I usually end up with the 50-55 count bag (sometimes considered “medium”). The number on a bag of shrimp indicates how many shrimp you get per pound. The larger the shrimp the less you get per pound.
The 50-55 count bag gives you the perfect size shrimp for deep frying. My wife is not a fan of the larger shrimp.
How to Bread Precooked Shrimp
For breading shrimp I employ a three step process
- Coat the shrimp in all-purpose flour
- Dust off excess flour, coat with beaten eggs
- Let egg drip off, and then drop into Panko breadcrumbs
Gluten Free Options for Breading Shrimp
There are a couple options if want to do it gluten free.
- Gluten Free Bread Crumbs – You can get wheat free alternative that contain a mixture of different starches and non-wheat flours.
- Pork Panko – So this is an unique product that you can use instead of Panko. It is nothing but pork skins and salt. Add the crunch without any flour. This is a great choice for someone who is diabetic or following a Keto or Paleo diet.
Can You Bread Frozen Precooked Shrimp for Frying?
Could you do it? Sure. Would I? No.
A couple reasons. First, excess moisture from thawing but still frozen shrimp could make breading more difficult. It’s best to bread with the shrimp as dry as you can.
Second, I don’t like handling really cold shrimp. It makes my hands hurt!
Now, I will say, the last time I fried some shrimp some of them had some ice on them or were a little frozen in the center. That’s fine. You can break off any ice chunks and even if still firm in the middle the shrimp will be plenty warmed once fried.
If you need to defrost your shrimp fast, just run it under cold water.
What’s the Best Way to Fry the Shrimp?
At first I was frying in an electric deep fryer. Does it work? Sure.
However I always had issues with space. Those fryers can’t fit as much as what I fry in now, which is a cast iron dutch oven. I use a combination of frying/candy thermometer and infrared thermometer to monitor the oil temperature.
Here is a 30-second video you can watch on how I deep fry my shrimp.
I thank Food Network’s Alton Brown for teaching me how to do this. He taught that you don’t need an extra appliance for frying and that you can have better heat control when you do it on your stove top. I personally think the shrimp I fry in the dutch oven was better than anything I did in the electric fryer.
Let’s get on to the recipe!
Precooked Panko Deep Fried Shrimp
Make homemade fried shrimp using precooked shrimp, breaded in Panko Japanese bread crumbs
Thawing the Shrimp
Place the bag of shrimp into cold water until thawed. Or if you are in a hurry put the shrimp into a colander and run cold water on the shrimp until it thaws completely.
At this point I like to remove the tails so I am not wasting my breading on them but you can leave them if you wish.
Breading the Shrimp
Next I place the flour, beaten egg, and Panko bread crumbs (w/cayenne to taste) into 3 separate containers. The shrimp is then placed, one at a time, into the flour, then the egg, and then into the Panko.
Make sure you don’t drip egg into the Panko or soon you will have a bunch of small Panko balls.
Set your oven to it’s lowest setting. This is to keep the fried shrimp warm while you are finishing them all up.
Heat your oil to 350 degrees and slowly drop the shrimp in. Don’t add too many as this can reduce the oil temperature.
Cook for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown and delicious.
Place the shrimp on plate with paper towel or on a rack on a sheet pan with newspaper or paper towel underneath. This is so you can wick away excess oil. Salt to taste
Place the cooked shrimp into the oven to keep warm until you are done frying.
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